Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Stove

I mentioned that my next drawing for the online drawing class was to be of my stove. Susan likes to choose quirky subjects for this class which is part of the fun. Last Sunday morning we decided to watch CBS Sunday Morhing, which we don't usually do. It happened to feature a piece on an artist I was not familiar with. It was Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and I loved his work. He was a contemporary of Gabrielle Muntet, the German Expressionist I discovered some years ago in Munich, whose work inspired me in doing my Amish paintings. I decided to use that for the stove drawing, using oil pastels. It went very fast and was most enjoyable. We have to use a huge (11x 14) sketchbook, double spread (22x44) and cover every inch. I'm used to working small, so I have found that a bit daunting, but this one was relatively easy.
Today I went to see '"Turandot," another opera with one good aria-"Nessum  dorma." Unfortunately, the tenor who sang it sucked. The production was lavish and gorgeous. Cecil B. DeMille would have been jealous. The production was designed years ago by Franco Zeferelli, who also did the over the top but beautiful "La Boheme." Less is more does not apply to some of these productions at the Met, although there was an interview today about the new production of h"Mamon Lescaut" coming up, which will be presented as a 1940s film noir, with a rather stark looking set. They are working hard to get new and younger audiences , rather than us geezers, who totter in to hear old favorites. Polly saw "Turandot" at the Met last week and saw quite a few younger folks there, so they are on the right track. Maybe they'll tackle "Tommy" some day.

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's a Cold, Cruel World

Well, not really, since I have a working furnace and warm clothing. That title was inspired by looking out the window, where all is black, white and mainly gray. We have gotten a little sun now and then to keep us from S.A.D. However , the unsanitary going on in the political arena no doubt has made many people sad, wondering what's happening to those voters being polled who persist in following a total nut job, recently endorsed by the clown princess of nut jobs. Perhaps there has actually been an alien invasion, kept silent by the billions of dollars owned by King Nut, who claims to have great powers (cue Twilight Zone theme).
I am distracting myself by taking the fabulous Susan Shie's online drawing class, which is a sort of free form " express yourself" class. We do have assignments each week and special event  projects, that may involve the State of the Union address (our impressions of) or the Golden Glibe Awards
(our impressions of) or MLK 's birthday (our impressions of). It's a lively and fun thing to do, especially in the drab days of winter in Northeast Ohio. The above illustration is my impression of the late David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, who I figured would want to meet VanGogh, somewhere amongst the starry skies over Arles. Thus week's assignment is to draw an impression of our kitchen stove, my least favorite appliance. This may sound strange, but the idea is to challenge oneself, and the results in the class are always original and imaginative. Lots o' fun.
My movie going has been sparse, mostly by choice. Not much appeals to me. I have seen a few of the nominees, found them enjoyable, but not great. Two were clones of "All the President's Men," namely " The Big Short," and "Spotlight." The latter will probably get the award, even though it is full f white people, as were all the nominated films. Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


I enjoy the phenomenon of dreaming. I know there are those who study this area and interpret meanings, and make claims about all sorts of issues connected with dreams. Freud and Jung made a big deal out of them. Gamblers, the kind who play the Numbers or the lottery, buy dream books, which are supposed to predict wins if you dream about certain things. In our family, we like to talk about them.
When all of my children were living at home, we tended to have similar dreams at the same time. Maybe it was from moon phases, or season changes. I particularly remember  once when we all had  dreams about soft, swishy things, like cushions, rubber toys, and fat pink snakes, when we all happened to have fevers. God knows what Jung would have made of that one.
I have dream versions of familiar places. In my dreams, everything is bigger than life. The buildings at my dream Kent State are the ones I knew as a student, only on a gigantic scale, with ceilings so high you can barely see them. I am usually looking for a bathroom in one of those vast halls and when I find one, it's usually a lone toilet in the middle of a public space. That has absolutely no relationship to an
ything I ever experienced there. In fact there was one women's rest room in Kent Hall that had great acoustics, and was a great place to harmonize in. Of course, campus dreams bring up the one where I go to take a final exam and discover I never attended class. That happened again last night, which is probably why I am writing about dreaming.
I also dreamed this dog ( see illustration); in fact there were two of them on leashes held by an old man. They were very small and had human-ish eyes. I asked the old man what kind they were, bur I don't remember the answer. They were very stylized, looking as if they were made of china, bur weren't. I happened at the time to be looking for two other dogs, one large and one very, very small, both of which  were made of pencil sketches. Really.
My dreams are usually fragmented, but there are some people, like my friend Nancy, whose dreams have comprehensive, if surrealistic, plots. Maybe that's a sign of a sound sleeper, or a more organized psyche. The brain is a complex and wondrous  thing, and dreams must lurk in all those folds and creases, triggered by who knows what. As Scrooge suggested, perhaps a bit of undigested meat, or a
dab of mustard.
Anyway, I don't interpret;  I just enjoy the weirdness of it all.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A New Year Begins

I have never cared much for the  actual holiday of January 1. It might stem from the childhood feeling of Christmas being over and the knowledge that school loomed ahead for six months. Oh, there were the fun years of New Year's Eve parties, dressing up in glitter and convivial and alcohol fueled hilarity, but the thought of that just makes me tired thinking of it.
This year  there was our usual subdued day, with the bonus of discovering that Truman Capote's beautiful and evocative "A Christmas Memory" is on YouTube. We were able to watch it on TV, thanks to Polly's gift of Roku. (If we could have stayed awake afterwards, one of those TV movie channels was running a marathon of my favorite Mel Brooks flicks, "Young Frankenstein," the one with Cloris Leachman's immortal line, " He vas my poyfrent!" My eyes decided to close and I  missed it.)
The Truman Capote piece is right out of my childhood. My first Christmas in the South was spent in my grandmother's home in Montgomery, Alabams, crammed in with my Aunt Marie, her husband and her two children. At that time our family consisted of my parents, my brother and sister and me. I don't know how we all fitted into the house. My cousin, Little Amalia, was not at all happy to have to share our grandmother with usutpers from the North. She had recently acquired a playhouse in the back yard and let us know we were not welcome to enter it.
I didn't know it at the time ( I was 4 years old)" but the Depression had started to take hold, which was why we were there. My father's job in Atlanta would not start for a few months. I remember that we had fried squirrel for Christmas dinner. It was not a dreary time for the children, actually, but I can imagine that there was a lot of stress for the adults. My grandmother had a good job. There was a maid and a manservant who drove my uncle to his job, but that was just Southern custom, regardless of the economic situation.
When we moved to Atlanta, things were better. At Christmas, my father and brother would go out to the piney woods to get a tree. I remember picking pecans up on the ground and the smell of them. Mother would make fruit cakes right after Thanksgiving, and would pour a little whiskey over them in the weeks before Christmas. She did not make cookies, but rather all kinds of candies: dates in fondant, sea foam, divinity, penuche and chocolate fudge.
The Capote story has echoes of all this, including the Southern landscape itself, which is why I love it so. It was originally on ABC as one of their specials, and was so well-received that it was repeated a
week later. Of course I watched it again.
In all, our Christmas holiday was very pleasant, with Polly home from Provincetown, cooking us wonderful meals, chatting with Emily on FaceTime, several trips to Cleveland to Playhouse Square, Trinity Cathedral for the Boar's Head Festival and to the great Cleveland Museum of Art.
I think I am ready to cope with winter.
The picture above is of the woods a few weeks ago, early in the morning, bare enough to see the sunrise.